“I want to breathe. That’s why I want out of this place. So I can take a deep breath again.” Joe Sullivan
one, he honed his skill and dark vision on Poverty Row,
stamping his mark on the Noir universe and directing little
cheapo gems that rose way above their B-movie limitations
thanks to the brilliance of their director
and a wizard of a DP.
Range and he created in Jimmy Stewart a Western protagonist who was not only morally ambiguous
but near-psychotic, just one step away from being an out and out villain. The psychologically troubled
Mann “hero” is always in danger of becoming what he already closely resembles, the Mann villain.
This very interesting polarity has its roots in Mann's Noir of the 40s.
Photography and he could have made any hack director look good. Fortunately he didn’t have to as he
worked with Mann. Mann and Alton pooled their resources six times between 1947 and 1950 and to this
day are one of the best dirrector-cinematographer dream teams in cinema with style to burn.
They naturally went together, like guns and ammo. Raw Deal oozes moody Noir atmosphere conjured
up with a 40-Watt lightbulb. Thanks to the cinematography, the strange theremin music and Claire Trevor’s
voice-over the entire movie has a hallucinatory and hypnotic quality about it. The characters move
through a hazy dreamscape as if they’re in a cold-sweat nightmare. To say Alton illuminated the dark
crevices of the human psyche would be misleading, but he revealed them. He once remarked that he
wasn’t afraid of the dark, but he could certainly make his audience afraid of it.
“If you want to know what happened to that kid with the medal, he had to hock it at sixteen. He got hungry.”
“I am from under a rock, a whole pile of ‘em; Corkscrew Alley, Dean’s Orphanage, the famous rock that hits you in the back of the head after you’ve tried to help someone, not to mention that heap I busted out of called the State Pen.”
“Just because I own a car and a tailored suit and my nails are clean, you think I’ve never had to fight?”
It is what all sinners on the lam have to understand in the end. Being an outlaw means being an outcast. It means everlasting exile from your fellow men. Always running, always hiding, never being able to go home again. There is no refuge in Wilderness. It may be beautiful and unspoiled but it is as unforgiving and corrosive as the confined prison cell they have fled.
“There’s my Joe in her arms. A kind of happiness on his face. In my heart I know that this is right for Joe. This is what he wanted.”